A bill to create pool safety standards in swim classes across Connecticut is moving forward for a vote by the General Assembly following two drowning deaths in East Hartford and Manchester schools.
The state department of public health regulates some swimming activities, but there is no statewide standards for schools. Appearing on WNPR's Where We Live, State representative Stephen Dargan from West Haven said he is proposing to change that after two students drowned during swim classes in 2012. "There is no uniform policy and one death is too many." Fourteen-year-old Malvrick Donkor was pulled from the pool at Manchester High School. The Hartford Courant reported that surveillance showed the boy was under water for 17 minutes while students swam above him. In January that year, in neighboring East Hartford, freshman Marcum Asiamah also drowned at school. The town settled a negligence lawsuit with his estate for $1.5 million. The pool safety bill would require teachers be certified as swim instructors and that a certified lifeguard be in each class. Dargan believes that can be done without adding a cost to school boards, like using students. "A number of them are already qualified as lifeguards that would be able to assist them," he said. If the bill wins the support of lawmakers, it could be in place by July 2014. Meanwhile, a Hartford attorney who represents both victims who drowned says a wrongful death suit in the Manchester drowning is pending.